Solomon Islands: Toilets arrive in Na’au!
When you live on an average income of less than USD1 per day, formal toilets may seem an unrealistic dream. Residents of Na’au in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands had the vision of safe defecation, but lacked the where-with-all to purchase the materials. On Wednesday this week persistence produced pedestals on the wharf at Atoifi. An amazing sight and cause for celebration!
Funds from the South Sea Ecumenical Church provided the building blocks to a better life – 40 toilets. Cement, steel rods and other items will soon make the tortuous trip by ship, truck and motorised canoe from Honiara to Auki, to Atori, to Atoifi. The final leg of the journey, wharf to Na’au, will be on the backs and shoulders of the Na’au community. The residents will also provide the man and woman-power and technical skills to dig the pits, build the slabs, construct walls, roofs and doors.
In Na’au choosing where toilets should be built is a complex issue. Na’au sits on the route from the Christian coast to the ancestor worshipping East Kwaio mountains. The community is an interesting mix of traditional and Christian worldviews. The ancient concepts have men and women using separate toilets even within families. The more contemporary approach has no such restrictions. To accommodate both sets of beliefs each family will own a toilet, but the toilets will be grouped on the edge of the village: male only in one area, female only in another; and in a third location, family toilets for those who do not have traditional beliefs. All will be accommodated. What amazing wisdom made visible in toilets!
Tropical Health Solutions has been privileged to work with the Na’au community along with the Atoifi Adventist Hospital, James Cook University, Hunter New England NSW Health and Central Queensland University. From our biomedical worldview toilets will reduce transmission of hookworms and decrease the risks of diarrhoeal diseases. Cause for jubiliation all round!
Posted by Rick Speare 27 June 2014
Photo by Tommy Esau